Category Archives: ethics

Glade to Disclose Chemicals in Products

In the past I have covered marketing and social media issues on the Glade brand of home fragrances. Specifically I visited their unique pop up store for the senses in the meat packing district in NYC and discussed how they attempted to build social media buzz.  However, total honesty with customers may be a better marketing strategy.  This week Glade announced that they would disclose the ingredients in some of their home fragrance products.  This is a welcomed change from the prior strategy of evasion.  The New York Times reported that Glade will list the ingredients in most products on the SC Johnson website.  The article can be accessed by clicking: Glade to Disclose Chemicals. glade pack

There is legitimate customer concern over common chemicals in our products and without clear disclosure people are unable to judge.  Unfortunately even with disclosure many of the common chemical and additive names are a mystery to non-chemists.  I would encourage companies to not only disclose the ingredients, but pledge to use only those additives that are proven safe.  This would be awesome marketing and has already been adopted by some firms.

Given a choice, I buy products that I believe have the least harmful ingredients and price isn’t always the indicator. For example, I use pure white vinegar to wash fruit and veggies and that’s cheaper than any commercial brand on the market.  Even if you buy the most expensive cosmetics you can’t be sure what is in them.

One option is to use the database Skin Deep. Here you can input many products to find out whether or not they are harmful to humans and exactly how they may be problematic. Warning:  It is a bit scary…..

When I visited the Glade pop up store I had a great time smelling the different rooms, but the chemicals in the products were a big turn off and I threw away the smelly samples the next day.

Glade… do not just report the chemicals, please use natural ingredients.  They are much nicer.


McDonald’s or Wendy’s: Who Manages Issues Better on Mother’s Day? 


Fair Wages

                     Kids at McDonald’s protesting to raise wages.

On Mother’s Day 2015 my 9 year old son and his group from the Workman’s Circle brought cards to the moms working the weekend shift at McDonald’s.  The message was to wish these workers a $15 minimum wage to help them support their families. Armed with a package of pennies my child ordered a cone and began to count them one by one. That’s when the corporate machine jumped into action and gave out free ice cream to all the kids. None of them refused and it became difficult to chant “Justice for workers.”

Foiled at McDonald’s the group moved on to Wendy’s where the manager yelled at them and threatened to call the police. There they stayed fueled from the free ice cream and continued their calls for fair wages for moms.

The kids have a history with Wendy’s because the company has refused to pay an additional penny a pound for tomatoes grown by Florida farm workers.   Looks like Wendy’s should think about a number of their policies.

You may be wondering what this has to do with social media and mobile marketing.  Social issues diffuse more quickly through the population than ever before and customers, when united, can alter long held corporate policies.  Social media can also shed light on issues if people widely share them. has had some big successes in altering corporate policies.  I wish it would start to work for global warming…

Here is a link to the article in the Daily News.

As I have said before I love pod casts.  One of my favorites is Mitch Joel’s Twist Image Pod Cast in which he discusses various aspects of digital media with his friends and colleagues.   Last week he interviewed Douglas Rushkoff who is an author and media critic.

The conversation revolved around the corporate ownership of social media and the role individuals play in creating content for big brands.  Rushkoff criticizes both the output and the content creation process because those who benefit from the sharing and the likes are the corporations who host the material and not those who create it.  The original hope for social networking platforms was that they would democratize communications, allowing anyone to share his or her opinion, art or ideas.

In reality social networking has become a means for companies to track individuals and serve them advertising to sell products, rather than allowing for free expression. The problem is compounded when those who create content act to increase their social media presence by playing to the crowd and as a result reducing their creativity. What was initially empowering for individuals is now owned by brands.


Social networks have become mass media with the same goals as television, radio or print.  There is the illusion that social networks serve the greater good, however as Mitch Joel says…’meet the new boss, same as the old boss.’

Rushkoff goes onto explain that free  isn’t always better, citing examples of paid media that have higher quality than user generated content. For example, he mentions HBO and Netflix, two services that deliver strong programming as compared to YouTube videos that individuals create and post.

One danger is that children are growing up in a world where they catalog and share their thoughts, feelings, ideas, talent and dreams without ever considering what it means to “sell out.”  In fact, teens who Rushkoff interviewed, could not define the concept of selling out.

Of course, we are all complicit in our usage of social media when it serves our purposes.  As a professor who teaches social media marketing to students I am well aware of the  paradox.